Grove City in Legal Thicket as HEW Hews to Its Line
Grove City College officials say they have nothing against women—just against governmental controls. This 103-year-old Christian liberal arts college in the hills of western Pennsylvania has locked legal horns with the vast federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The case may have a direct effect on other private colleges in the United States, if for no other reason than that student dollars are involved.
Since 1977, HEW has asked Grove City to sign forms showing its compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans discrimination against women. Grove City consistently has refused to do so. President Charles MacKenzie told Associated Press, “If we signed this, we’d be expected to sign compliance forms for everything under the sun.”
Since the school never has received a dollar in direct government aid, its officials say the government should have no jurisdiction over the college’s affairs. They refused to sign as a matter of principle.
However, HEW stands behind principles of its own. The agency argued that it had jurisdiction over Grove City through those Grove City students who receive federal aid. After a 1978 hearing in Philadelphia, HEW administrative law judge Albert Feldman ruled that financial assistance to Grove City students in the form of personal grants, the Basic Educational Opportunity Grants; and loans, Guaranteed Student Loans; was in fact aid to the college, and that such funds should be cut off.
Feldman noted, “… there was not the slightest hint of any failure to comply with Title IX save the refusal to submit an executed assurance of compliance with Title IX. This refusal is obviously a matter of conscience and belief.” But he said he had no authority to rule on the constitutionality of the regulations, and that the HEW director is given “unlimited discretion” in compliance procedures.
Public relations director Robert Smith said 700 to 800 of the 2,200 Grove City students presently receive aid through BEOG or GSL programs. This money goes directly to the students, said Smith, and the college’s only role in the process is “to certify that these students are in fact enrolled.”
The courts will determine how long such student aid will continue. Grove City and four of its students threatened with an aid cutoff filed a complaint against HEW in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh last November. They argued that HEW had exceeded its constitutional authority by seeking to regulate a private college that accepts no government funds.
On October 10, both the college and HEW submitted briefs stating their respective positions to the federal court. Later, each party studied the other’s briefs, and submitted “reply briefs” to the same court.
This way, “both sides would have their facts out on the table” before the scheduled November 13 hearing, Smith said. Lawyers didn’t expect a decision on the case until early next year, he added. College president MacKenzie has said the college is ready to take its battle to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary.
In the meantime, various other college officials are awaiting the outcome. Hillsdale (Michigan) College also has refused to sign the Title IX compliance form; but it has argued its case through HEW administrative channels, rather than the federal courts. An administrative law judge earlier ruled that the HEW was “overstepping its bounds” by attempting to cut off student aid at the college, said college spokesperson Cheryl Yurchis. She said HEW appealed that decision, and that an HEW review board reviewed the case, but still had not given a decision.
Rockford (Illinois) College refused to sign the compliance forms, and in 1977 HEW informed the school that student federal aid would be cut off, said Vic Peterson, vice-president for development. Rather than contest the decision, this independent college of 1,100 students voluntarily adopted a policy to deny admission to students receiving BEOG or GSL assistance.
The school’s action ended any HEW claim to jurisdiction, but as a result, the school has been forced to seek other means of financial support for its students. Peterson said the school launched a fund raising drive in May; the school hoped to build a fund from which students could borrow to meet the $3,175 annual tuition fees.
Grove City, Hillsdale, and Rockford are among the very few colleges in the United States that refuse both government aid and the signing of HEW compliance forms. A number of private colleges, however, have expressed support for Grove City, a United Presbyterian-affiliated college. (Public relations director Smith said Grove City is loosely affiliated with, but not under the control of, the UPCUSA.) Through the Christian College Consortium, Wheaton College (Illinois) entered a friend of the court brief with Grove City. (Wheaton, itself, signed the Title IX compliance forms.) College president Hudson T. Armerding explained Wheaton’s action in a summer alumni magazine, saying, “… we think that [the case] will affect us as well as the other colleges in the consortium, depending upon the way in which the decision is rendered.”
Until that decision, Grove City will continue piling up legal expenses, which college officials say total over $55,000 so far. Sympathetic publicity has generated financial support, said Smith. “Our alumni giving fund has really mushroomed in the last two years,” he said, adding that a legal defense fund has been established.
“We have promised the students that it [defense costs] will not affect the operating budget,” he said, “and I can assure you it hasn’t.” The school recently launched a $1 million athletic facilities construction project.
The situation is crucial for students who, faced with rising tuition costs, base their college choice on the available financial aid. Small independent colleges see the Grove City dispute as a test case determining how far the federal government can go in its regulation of the private education realm.
Hillsdale spokesperson Yurchis argued against HEW’s claim that giving financial aid to students is the same as financial aid to the college; “That’s like saying a grocery store is federally funded because people use social security checks to buy food.”
The Homosexuality Issue
Gays: Marching As to War
As thousands of demonstrators passed within a block of the White House in what was billed as the first national gay rights march, a bystander waved a sign that warned: “Repent or perish—2 Peter 2:12.” Shouted back a young marcher: “The Lord is my Shepherd, and he knows I’m gay.”
Organizers had predicted 100,000 homosexuals, lesbians, and sympathizers would take part in last month’s march from the Capitol to a rally site at the Washington Monument. But fewer than 25,000 persons, mostly young and white, showed up from across the country. Participants were about evenly divided between men and women, and wore “gay is groovy” buttons and carried posters saying “Closets are for clothes.” Scattered among the Sunday afternoon marchers were parents; their posters said things like “I love my gay son,” and “We march with our children for human rights.” A few antigay picketers were jeered.
On hand were large contingents from such religious gay rights groups as Dignity (Roman Catholic), Integrity (Episcopalian), Affirmation (United Methodist), the Catholic Coalition for Gay Civil Rights, Gay Mormons United, and Lutherans Concerned. Also marching together were hundreds of members of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a homosexual-oriented denomination of some 40 churches. UFMCC founder-moderator Troy Perry was among the rally speakers; he also preached later in the day at a UFMCC church service that attracted nearly 1,000.
The demonstration was staged in part to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the gay rights movement. (Leaders say the movement emerged from the turbulent aftermath of a 1969 police raid on a gay bar in New York City.) The other main purpose of the demonstration, say spokesmen, was to serve notice that the movement is shifting from gay pride to gay politics. Among other things, the group called for repeal of all local and state sodomy laws, passage of federal gay rights legislation, and issuance of a presidential order banning discrimination by the military, the government, and federally subsidized contractors. They called for an end, through some form of legal protection, to alleged discrimination against gay parents in child custody cases and an end to harassment of homosexual youths.
Leaders of the movement visited congressional offices for several days following the event, to press their demands. Among the movement’s friends in Congress are Democrats Ted Weiss of New York and Phillip Burton of California, who have introduced gay rights legislation in the House. Their move, however, has been countered by Democrat Larry McDonald of Georgia, a strong ally of the conservative Christian lobbies on Capitol Hill. McDonald’s bill would ban homosexuals from status as a special minority group eligible for federal programs and funds.
While the demonstration was in progress, nearly 100 Christians gathered in a hearing room in the Rayburn congressional office building and prayed that homosexuals would repent. It was the symbolic rallying point of a hurriedly called National Day of Prayer for Homosexuals, sponsored by several Christian lobbies. The lobbies had sent letters to 40,000 ministers, asking them to pray during the afternoon for homosexuals. Representative McDonald arranged for the use of the hearing room, and the prayer meeting was led by television minister Jerry Falwell of Lynchburg, Virginia, and Richard Zone, executive director of Christian Voice, one of the Christian lobbies.
Falwell and Zone conducted a press conference prior to the prayer meeting. “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” quipped Falwell. But then he got down to business, and warned that homosexuality is a serious threat to the family and a danger to America. Homosexuality, he declared, is a sin that one can choose to take up or give up, just like stealing or drug addiction; it can be conquered by turning to Christ.
In response to a question, Falwell said that he would not object to homosexuals having equal housing or employment opportunities, but that he would oppose permitting them to teach in schools and to hold positions of leadership where their influence could damage others. He served notice that the Christian lobbies will examine political candidates to see where they stand on homosexuality and other issues affecting the family.
In reply to a query on presidential candidates, Falwell said he respects President Carter and his wife as “exemplary persons” but finds himself in “almost total disagreement with them philosophically.” He also said he would oppose vigorously the candidacy of Senator Edward Kennedy because of Kennedy’s own family troubles and the alleged immorality connected with Chappaquiddick.
Afterward, Adam DeBaugh, the UFMCC’s Washington lobbyist, commented on the Falwell meeting. “It is the height of arrogance for any single person to imply that he speaks for all of Christianity on any topic,” said DeBaugh. “We are Christians, too,” he said, “and we have different views.” Falwell and his supporters would agree, at least, with the part about “having different views.”
EDWARD E. PLOWMAN
A college planning and management specialist, William Shoemaker, has been named director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. Shoemaker served for the past seven years as vice-president for research with the Council for Advancement of Small Colleges in Washington, D.C. He succeeds David Johnston, Wheaton College vice-president for finance, who became acting director when Donald Hoke resigned in 1978 to return to the pastorate.
For reasons of age, Roman Catholic Cardinal Leo Suenens of Belgium submitted his resignation soon after his 75th birthday in July. Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation. Appointed a Cardinal in 1962 and one of the major shapers of the Second Vatican Council, Suenens was authorized by the Vatican to oversee the growing charismatic movement, which he supports.
Converted during a revival at age 10 and a licensed pastor at 17, W. A. Criswell preached his first sermon at Dallas First Baptist Church in 1944. Since then, the church has grown from 7,800 to 20,500 members and in financial contributions from $250,000 to $8.4 million, and the self-described “old-fashioned preacher” has become a leading Southern Baptist spokesman for inerrancy and traditional Baptist beliefs. Dallas civic leaders and his congregation spent a week last month honoring Criswell, 69, on his thirty-fifth anniversary as Dallas First Baptist pastor.
Mother Theresa, 69, Roman Catholic nun who has spent most of her adult life working among the poor and diseased in Calcutta, India, received the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize with the comment, “I am unworthy.” Born of Yugoslavian parents in Albania, she became a nun at 18 and taught in a Catholic high school in Calcutta for 20 years. In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity, an organization with more than 150 houses for the poor, three of them in the United States.
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